By Motoring Editor, Maarten Hoffmann

 

It’s been a long time coming. We have long-awaited the DNA swap between Jaguar and Land Rover although it’s been going the other way for quite a while. JLR have long offered a four wheel drive with the luxury of a Jaguar with the Range Rover but we have never seen it go the other way. That is, a Jaguar with a dose of the Land Rover and, finally, here it is in all its party frock and fancy knickers.

The traditional German manufacturers outsell the likes of Jaguar by a million a year against Jags 100,000 but the F-Pace is designed to change all that. The company’s concern is that this car will simply steal sales from its own stable. If you want a Discovery, you might be tempted by the F-Pace and there in lies the problem of nicking sales from yourself. But at least the profit remains within the company, I guess.

Firstly, this is a very handsome car. Beautifully designed and styled from every angle and the nose is one that l could look at, in the right colour combo, all day long. The interior is an equal delight with a great 10.2 InControl Touch pro screen with a 10GB hard drive for music storage and a sound system that goes from the standard 80W system up to the mighty 825W Meridian surround system.

As usual on recent Jags, some of the interior buttons and surfaces are a tad low-rent but that can forgiven as the general feel is superb - and did l mention that sexy nose?

The seats hug you, and, if you go up the spec sheet, you get 10-way adjustable heated seats that work so well that you really do feel like your’ve lost control of your bladder. There’s a general Range Rovery feel to the whole thing and that ain’t no bad thing. The only really annoying item here is the location of the window controls. Just as you get comfy with elbows where they should be, you have to rearrange yourself to operate the windows as they are high up on the door and in a very silly position. I am sure you get the point - if that is all l can think to complain about, things are going well.

But, what about the all-important drive. I really wanted to stretch the cats legs - so l drove to Holland. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Having mentioned this to Jaguar, they efficiently supplied the car with a European up-date of the SatNav system that was so damned efficient, l think the car could of got there without me. I loaded the family onboard and headed for Folkestone and that other marvel of engineering, the Chunnel. It is easy to take this for granted but what a bloody marvel of engineering it really is.

I headed to Amsterdam first to take the girls to Ann Frank’s house and although l have no time to sound off on that subject here, if you haven’t cried for a while, go and the tears will fl ow. The car just wafted us all there with little drama apart from the stares of people wondering what this car was. It is still novel enough, and beautiful enough, to make folk stare. It has superb road manners, corners flat for a high rider and will sit up and go when required. The diesel engine is pretty good, against my hatred of the damn things, and once it gets going, it is quiet enough. The volume sales might head toward the frugal 2.0 litre diesel for those watching the costs but really, move up to the 3.0 litre V6 and you will want for nothing. Based on the fact that the world is FINALLY waking up to the shocking damage that diesel engines cause, l would also recommend going for the petrol version thus avoiding the ban on dirty diesels entering our cities that is coming soon. The petrol version does have a drinking problem but then, don’t we all?

I did expect the handling to suffer the normal compromise of high riding SUVs, but there’s little evidence of it due, in part, to the lightweight aluminium bits and the torque vectoring system that helps you aim into corners by braking the inside rear wheel. It’s the way it flows through fast bends that impresses most; it may be lighter than most of its rivals, but this is still a 1.8-tonne SUV, and yet it genuinely feels as agile as many hatchbacks.

There will be few issues with interior space as there is plenty of front leg space and rear headroom and with the panoramic roof, light floods into the cabin. Jaguar claim the boot space beats all its sector rivals at a whopping 650 litres with the rear seats in place although it is roughly on a par with the BMW X3 or Disco Sport but flatten the rear seats and you are left with space enough for a double bed, a couple of bedside tables and the kitchen sink.

There are bundles of options but the range topping S and Portfolio would be the ones for me that come with everything fitted although you will pay the price. You could get an Audi Q7 for less but it doesn’t drive as well and is a lumbering old beast. The Q5 and Porsche Macan are competitors but this gives them both a good run for the money. Reliability is one aspect that Jaguar needs to look at as they finished a disappointing 30th out of 37 in the recent What Car reliability survey.

In conclusion, Jaguar have produced a world class SUV with all the style and panache you could want. So much so, that it is the Auto Express 2016 Car of the Year but far, far more importantly; it is time for me to announce the Platinum 2016 Car of the Year.

Last year, the barnstorming Audi RS6 Avant was my car of the year and that is a tough act to follow and with so many great cars on the market, this really does require the engagement of the old grey matter. In the end, it is quite simple. The Jaguar F-Pace is the Platinum Car of the Year 2016 and it is well deserved.

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TECHNICAL STUFF

Model tested: F-Pace S AWD

Engine: 3.0 litre diesel turbocharged

Power: 300 bhp

Performance: 0-60 mph 5.8 seconds

Top Speed: 150 mph

Economy: 47.1 combined

Prices from: £35,020.00

As tested: £59,665.00